Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and Midlands-North-West European Parliament candidate Brendan Smith has called on the Government to reopen the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) for farmers who have their Agri-Environment Option Scheme (AEOS) contracts end in 2018.

Deputy Smith said, “GLAS must be immediately reopened to farmers whose AEOS contracts finished in 2018.

“I have met with farmers through the border, midlands and north west regions who are struggling to earn a living wage. Those in the farming community are being denied the right to join the latest argi-environment scheme GLAS. This is indefensible and denying them that much needed income stream, while carrying out additional actions that are conducive with the protection of the environment and climate change mitigation.

“It must also be remembered that in 2015, Government said once the scheme was fully opened with 50,000 farmers it would require funding of €250 million per annum. The Government have missed this financial commitment on the scheme in each year over the 2016-2018 period as evidenced in latest PQs released to my Party.

“Over the lifetime of the scheme there has been a €62m underspend. This scheme must be reopened. There would be no additional spend and money already budgeted for the scheme would be used.

“The farming sector is struggling. It faces some of the most significant periods of change it has seen in many years. We must do everything we can in parliaments at home and in Europe to ensure they have our support. The Government must ensure the scheme is immediately opened for these farmers,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.